A forum of more than 200 people in Perth has passed a resolution to reject the Federal Government’s new reporting conditions for Aboriginal health organisations.
The new Terms and Conditions for government grants force Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) around the country to submit to a set of onerous and unfair conditions.
The Aboriginal Health Council of WA said the Terms and Conditions enabled the Health Department to micro-manage Aboriginal Health Services around the country from an office in Canberra.
“These Terms and Conditions for grants are completely unfair and unworkable,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.
“We do not know of any other sector which will have to sign contracts holding them to these types of conditions.
“It is ridiculous to ask Aboriginal Medical Services to get permission from Canberra every time they want to hire a new cleaner or a new contractor.
“This will tie AMSs up in red tape and prevent them from doing their job while they sit around waiting for permission from Canberra every time they want to make a decision.”
Ms Nelson-Cox said that AMSs were also expected to provide personal details of all staff, which apart from causing concern among staff members, may also breach federal privacy laws.
“Another proposed provision requires grant recipients to complete all commitments under their grants even if funding is paused or stopped,” she said.
“This could mean a compliant AMS could be made insolvent by a Federal Government decision to cut funding.”
Ms Nelson-Cox said the government was trying to force Aboriginal Medical Services to sign off on the Terms of Conditions by the 19th of June.
“AMSs are being rushed into agreeing to these Terms and Conditions to secure the grants that they need in order to operate,” she said.
“The Federal Government is basically holding this over their heads and if they don’t sign off on the new Terms and Conditions, they will not get the funding they need.”
The Perth forum passed a motion to reject the new Terms and Conditions and called on the Federal Government to consult with Aboriginal health groups to re-write them before the end of the financial year.